Escalating gang violence in Haiti and Devastating floods in India and Bangladesh

 

Haiti: Turf conflicts between gangs worsen insecurity

Escalating gang violence fueled by territorial disputes between two criminal organizations has paralyzed travel, crippled commercial activity and displaced about 9,000 people in Port-au-Prince in recent weeks. According to the U.N. Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, at least 92 civilians and 96 suspected gang members were killed between April 24 and May 16, with another 113 people injured, 12 missing and 49 civilians kidnapped for ransom. While gang violence poses a significant threat across Port-au-Prince, the recent clashes between the Chen Mechan and 400 Mawozo gangs have been concentrated in the neighborhoods of Croix-des-Bouquets, Cite Soleil, Bas Delmas and Martissant, where 1,700 schools have been closed due to the spike in violence and directors’ inability to pay security fees to the gangs. Turf disputes between the criminal groups have increased the risk of travelling and operating in the affected neighborhoods, which has led to business and hospital closures and internal displacement exacerbating the socio-economic crisis facing the country. Protracted clashes could also complicate north-bound travel and impact supply chains. Similar issues have affected roads leading to the country’s southern regions, with warring gangs occupying the key routes, hijacking and robbing delivery trucks. An uptick in gang activity has also contributed to a spike in kidnappings across the country. Both foreign and local nationals have fallen victim to abductions – the most recent incident targeting foreigners involved eight Turkish citizens kidnapped in the neighborhood of Croix-des-Bouquets on May 8. While fewer foreigners were victims of abductions year-to-date when compared to 2021, the decline is likely due to most international organizations having suspended operations in the country. Gang violence and kidnappings have formed part of the security landscape in Haiti for the past two decades; however, influence and impunity of street gangs have surged since the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse in July 2021. Escalating territorial conflicts between rival gangs are likely linked to the upcoming elections slated to occur in the second half of 2022, suggesting that the security environment could deteriorate further in the near term.  


South Asia: Devastating floods in India and Bangladesh

Heavy pre-monsoon rains have triggered widespread flooding in northeast India and the bordering areas of Bangladesh in recent days, displacing at least 90,000 people, causing widespread infrastructure damage and inundating vast areas of agricultural land. Indian states of Bihar and Assam and the Sylhet and Sunamganj regions in Bangladesh – where flooding, thunderstorms and landslides have killed approximately 60 people – witnessed the most destruction. Authorities have reported that more than 3,000 villages in the Assam state have been partially or completely submerged by the flooding, while 93,000 homes have been damaged in Sylhet. The government of Bangladesh has closed nearly 600 schools to use them as shelters for those displaced by the storms. The flooding has also consumed at least 3,000 hectares of rice paddy fields, which is expected impact the livelihoods of thousands of Bangladeshi farmers. Extreme heat – reaching nearly 112°F (44°C) in some areas – also has the potential to affect agricultural production and livestock. Transportation infrastructure – including bridges and railroads – has been destroyed or severely damaged in both countries, which has restricted access to fresh water in the affected regions. India has deployed army and air force personnel to conduct search and rescue operations; authorities erected at least 269 camps to house evacuees. While flooding is common in India and Bangladesh, experts believe that similar extreme weather events will become more frequent due to climate change. As of May 25, the flood waters have started to recede but remain at a dangerously high level, complicating relief and rescue efforts. Moreover, the region’s monsoon season is expected to begin in early June and will likely result in additional flooding and landslides, threatening further infrastructure and property damage.